How to Survive a Flood

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Overview This article gives you some essential advice on dealing with flooding situations before and after they occur.

If there is a risk of experiencing flooding in your area, go further to learn more flood safety tips to survive it. You can often face it because of heavy rainfalls or storms, especially sudden ones that bring all the disaster and damage your property.

Statistics show the staggering numbers of deaths because of floodwaters. There are several cases when the water comes along faster, resulting in floods that it is better to be aware of:

  • incessant rains
  • heavy rains over a short period,
  • the river/stream water level rises high and overflows the nearby area,
  • an industrial disaster of a dam or levee can cause a flood.

In the United States, storm surges and floods occur systematically (case in point, Hurricane Katrina), so it is of great importance to raise your awareness of the subject to be ultimately prepared. Here are things to consider.

The Essence

The Essence The areas with the coasts, valleys, swampland, canyons, and so on by the immense water source are the most flood-susceptible. Even hurricanes bringing high winds and flooding are considered the most dangerous because of the latter, as the water penetrates within hundreds of miles in the area. It is the primary concern for water-saturated areas as it doubles the hazard.

Surviving a flood is not so easy. It should bring you to an awareness of the whole situation much before the actual flood occurs, so you have enough time to ponder about it. Try to analyze other factors: if you live in an area that can potentially suffer from a flood, consider its reoccurrence chances. If you and the local community understand its origin or type in the right way (flash flood, river, or coastal flood) and make all the necessary preparations, it increases your chances to overcome it.

Considering these simple things in advance gives you time to work out the safety measures without resorting to panic. Generally, divide all your preparations into three steps:

  1. what you can do before a flood,
  2. how to survive a flood, and
  3. what to do after it.

Continue reading the article, and you will find out about each of the flood stages and not be swept away by the flood waters.

Before-Flood Preparations

Before-Flood Preparations 1. Get Your Flood Insurance

If your area is a flood-susceptible one, buying insurance deserves your attention prior. On the verge of a crisis, surviving would be the top task for you. You will not have time to go into these paper procedures when a crucial moment comes. Try to predict any worst scenarios, tricky situations that could be covered by flood insurance. Don’t be negligent about getting it. Flood damages you in many ways, so you have a chance to avoid the risk of losing everything and protect yourself and your home financially.

2. Protect Your Home

When you know that flooding is inevitable and you have time to make some other preparation, be sure that you protect your home from flood waters with damming. The following techniques are among the best to defend your property with these tactics.

  • Sandbags

Use sandbags to build up the dam around your property. It is one of the cheap methods to prevent flood waters from ruining your house and direct the water the other way. Make sure that you have a good stock of bags, sand, and plastic beforehand. It might be challenging to find an adequate supply when you are already in an extreme situation.

To fill a bag with sand seems to be a trivial task. But you can find it useful if you train yourself on how to do it in advance. Grab some sandbags, arrange them in the most effective layer, learn this simple trick now, and it will save you precious time when the real flood comes along.

This sandbag wall is adequate protection against mild flooding. Still, it is very time-consuming to erect a massive wall like this around your house. And you might be interested in another defense option.

  • Aqua Dams

It is possible to have an Aqua Dam system around your property. It is an excellent option to resist big flood waters. The matter is that your Aqua Dam system should be taller than the water level of the flood, though it is difficult to predict. The higher the wall, the more money you pay for it. But compared to the loss you can have due to flooding, this system is a good investment.

  • Door Dams

A door dam is another way to prevent floodwaters from penetrating your home. Usually, the door is the most vulnerable place. A door dam is easy to apply as it is a plate, metal, or plastic with rubber seals around the edges that you fix into place. It is quite a simple and effective tactic to save your house from incoming water of minor floods, in case you can’t use the two methods mentioned above, or as additional protection.

3. A Sump Pump

Be sure that you have a sump pump if you live in an area prone to flooding. This device helps you to deal with incoming flood water and pump it out and lessen the damage caused to your property. It is good to have a sump pump running on batteries, as the power supply can be off. Also, remember that you can’t rely on the sump pump only if a massive flood occurs.

4. Secure Your Items and Supplies

Prepare your home to be a safe place for your stuff. Don’t forget to bring outdoor furniture and other things inside as even several inches of water can be enough to carry them away. Inside your home, think about important things for you or delicate items you might want to secure. The upper floor of your house is the best place.

If you have a home safe, it will be useful to use your essential documents and valuables. In case of an emergency, you can take them out quickly with you. And if you can’t, your belongings will be safe in case of fire or theft.

5. Stock Your Emergency Supplies

Many people know that it is necessary to have some emergency supplies at home. In case of flooding, you can be cut off from the higher ground, and it can take some time to rescue you. So your stock supplies help you to hold on and survive.

6. Safe Room for Your Emergency Supplies

Consider the safe room for the supplies you might need during the flood in your house. It can be a room on the first floor, like a pantry, or think about some other suitable place to have your supplies within reach. Exclude the garage and basement from your possible options. These are the least secure places during a flood. If you keep something in the basement, bring those items upstairs before the flood.

Bring some emergency stuff, including documents, to the attic, or even to the roof if you have an escape hatch. Floodwaters can come too fast, leaving you no chances to go up and down the stairs to get more supplies.

7. Non-Perishable Food and Water Items

Supply your emergency stock with drinking water. Bottled water is the best choice. It is vital to bear in mind that public water can be turned off in severe flooding cases, or there is a risk that it can be contaminated.

Consider the non-perishable food-stuff as well for your storage like canned and dehydrated food.

8. Medical Items

If you live in an area potentially susceptible to floods or a flash flood, prepare your medical and first aid kit and emergency supplies kit. It is better to have all your items being sealed or packed in a waterproof container.

Check it in advance and supply it with medications to satisfy every family member within seven days, including sanitation and personal hygiene items.

Ensure that you have antibacterial items like ointment and/or pills so you could deal with wounds and prevent infection development.

When you contact tainted water, cases are common, and you can get some infections or might experience diarrhea and vomiting that have severe after-effects for a human being. So, complete your first aid kit with items to treat them as well.

9. Consider Other Items

Keep them sealed or packed in a waterproof container, too, so you can use your survival items in decent conditions as long as possible. It is good to have a bug out bag prepare that you can grab fast in critical situations.

  • Have enough stock of batteries and flashlights as the electricity can be cut off. Also, pay attention to having some long-lasting survival candles if the batteries are out of order or stop working.
  • Have the neon paint of bright colors among your stock items. In case of disaster and waiting for help, you can mark your place, as it is easier to spot bright colors for rescue teams.
  • Put a bug spray as well. Mosquitoes and insects breed very quickly after a flood, especially in standing waters.
  • Have sunscreen, too, in case you have to spend too much time on your roof without any shade.
  • Plastic bottles of clean drinking water
  • Food items, non-perishable, in sealed pouches
  • Waterless soap and hand sanitizer
  • The floating device, or small inflatable raft, life preserver
  • Signal flare

10. Floatation Devices

Spend your time and money to obtain floating devices. You can get stuck in your home as a flood comes too fast. Moreover, you can be forced to move higher to your roof. So floating devices can help you to survive. A life vest is great to have. But couple it with an inflatable boat or paddle-boat. In this case, you can have more chances to escape, help others, and search for help.

11. Toilet Buckets

During flooding, sewage systems and water supply might not functions at all. So think about your toilets and prepare them as well. Two bucket toilets can help you out in case of an emergency. Now, this idea may seem not so attractive at all. But you feel much worse if you fail to prepare this toilet beforehand.

12. Think Over Your Evacuation Plan

If you still need to leave your home to rescue your life, go ahead. That’s the best what you can do during flooding. But do it wisely and safely. So you need a plan. Think about your potential ways to escape. Consider your chances to go away by highways and interstate roads. It is more likely that in case of emergency they’ll be full of cars. Think about back roads and paths as well. Keep your local map with you. Research several optional routes on how to reach higher grounds in advance, just if you won’t be able to use your main road.

13. Know How to Cut Off Your Utilities

When you receive a warning about upcoming flooding, there are still important things to do before evacuating to higher ground. You disconnect your power and gas to avoid short-circuiting electrical appliances and gas explosion. It is a must to know where are your cut-off devices. Check it now. Know your valves, breakers, and switches that you can reach them easily in case of emergency. Mark or label them, as you can forget some nuances about them when you are in a hurry or panic. Unplug your computers, other electronic devices, and appliances. Check your drainage system. It should be free from debris.

If flood water is already inside, don’t touch your electrical stuff, as it can be dangerous already. Leave everything as it is and go out.

14. Flood Alerts

To get official warnings and announcements about flooding are vital. You can obtain official updates in many ways: television, radio, the Internet, local warning systems, or even cell phones. Though almost all of these systems can show their poor performance during the incident, they are exposed to flood damage. In this case, radio is an essential source for receiving flood warnings. Be sure that you have a battery-powered radio as the power supply can be cut off. Also, learn if your local government agencies use their local system for communicating with their residents in such cases. Be prepared with this too.

While listening for announcements, ensure that you know these two terms that make you act one way or another: a “flood watch” and “flood warning.”

  • flood watch means that a flood is possible in your area. Keep listening for further announcements.
  • flood warning means that flooding is already occurring or will start soon. Prepare to evacuate quickly.

The evacuation announcements may follow, and then you act. But stay alert too.

If you feel that you are already in danger, don’t wait for the official announcement to get out, especially when it risks flash flooding. Go straight away to higher grounds. Don’t waste your time trying to listen for instructions. Flash flooding is very powerful and brings a considerable mass of water. That’s why it is the most dangerous one.

There areas that are known as suddenly flooded areas with canyons, streams. You can face flash floods there without any warnings, and even weather reports can’t predict them. Read the article further to learn how to manage flood survival.

How to Survive a Flood

How To Survive A Flood If you have made your preparations and studied how to survive a flood, you have high chances to go through it. Though don’t underestimate the power of flooding when you are in flood. Regardless of your preparations and knowledge about this natural disaster, it can come quite unexpected to you. Most of them occur so fast that you barely have time to rescue yourself, leaving your pets alone, surviving flooding.

See the flood safety tips on what to do when you survive a flood.

1. Turn Off Electricity and Gas

Reach your electricity cut-off devices, switches, and valves in your house and shut it down. Unplug appliances and turn off utilities. You do it before leaving the house due to evacuation to avoid an explosion. Remember, if you are standing in water, do not touch electrical stuff and leave everything.

2. Evacuation

  • Evacuate as you receive a flood warning in your region. Or do it without any instructions if your life is already endangered. Do it as soon as possible.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Early evacuation is the best solution.
  • Grab your things, bug out bags, your beloved ones, and move away for higher ground.
  • Don’t forget to lock up the door in case of looting.

3. Stuck In Your Home

Sometimes you can’t go away but have to wait for the storm to lessen, and the water level recedes. That is the case when you use your emergency supplies stocked ahead of time. Make sure that your emergency kit is just at hand.

Remember to use a signal flare or neon paint to attract rescuers and other people to help you. Stay calm and don’t panic to find our better solutions to challenges.

4. Leave Your Home Anyway

And don’t forget to take the most important documents with you. Rescuers can help people to go to shelters checking the flooded houses. Even when the flood water decreases, leave your home for a safer place. The water carries contagions and even viruses, mold starts appearing very quickly, and stagnant water poisons the air.

5. Tap Water

When the flood hits your region, the public water can be contaminated. So you have to listen for the drinking water alerts and announcements about tap water usage from the water company. You can hear the boil alert issue. In this case, it is possible to use tap water, but you have to boil it for one minute for any purposes: cooking, drinking, and even brushing your teeth. If you have small children with you, stick to bottled water for them as they might be more susceptible to chemical contaminants.

Boiling doesn’t remove chemical contaminants, though. It usually isn’t an issue for healthy adults. However, infants can be susceptible to nitrates in water. Only bottled water should be used for mixing infant formula.

6. Driving in Floods and Flash Floods

If you find yourself in a flood when driving, there are some flood survival tips to follow, though the whole situation is complicated for you:

  • never drive a flooded road. Better choose another way.
  • Never go through the flooded area. Better stop, and go another way.
  • Open a car window and turn off your engine. If you happen to be in flood water,
  • abandon your car if it is safe enough to do it, and move to higher ground if the flood water level increases around your vehicle.

Remember, your car can float effortlessly, and even several inches of water is enough to carry your vehicle away.

7. When a Car Sinks or Flooded,

  • don’t stay inside,
  • get out of the car fast.
  • There is a risk of getting stuck inside, drown, suffocating, or getting smashed by flood debris.
  • If you can’t open the side door, open the side window.
  • If you can’t roll down the window, break it.
  • Use a life hammer (or pull the headrest off the driver’s seat) for rescuing.
  • Cut the safety belts with a razor-sharp blade,
  • break the side or rear window with the steel hammer.
  • Be careful when you get out of your car as the water is continually moving.
  • Get on the roof of your car and look for higher ground.
  • Stay on the roof of your car if it is not safe to walk through moving water.
  • Hang on tight if your car moves and floats.
  • The water comes inside the car. It’s eventually sinking and stop moving.
  • It is better to stay above the water on the roof and wait for help.

If it is not such a critical case with your car sinking, then stay inside, but open your side window to have a chance to escape quickly.

If your car sinks too fast, then take a deep breath and move quickly.

8. Walking in the Flood Water

It’s better to avoid stepping into the water, even if its level seems not so high. The power and force of water can be strong enough to knock you down.

If you are in the flood water:

  • try to avoid moving water. Otherwise, you can be swept away.
  • Try to find the area of still water if you need to walk in the water.
  • Check the ground in front of you with a stick while walking, as roads or bridges can collapse under you.
  • If you walk in standing water, use a stick or any long object to check the debris and depth in front of you if you move in a flooded building, as the water can ruin the building materials.

9. Electrified Water

The leading cause for electrified water appearing is in downed power lines.

  • Avoid electrified water. It is mortal when driving, swimming, or walking.
  • If you want to help someone, keep your distance, you can throw something to rescue them.

After the Flood

After The Flood The flooding threat is over. And now it is time to go back to your places and normal life. The severe floods cause the most damage to your property and your area.

1. Basic Tips

First of all, continue following the news to know the basic things about living in your area after the flood survival. The confirmation of public water supply is one the most essential for you. You can’t return to your home immediately. You have to wait for the authority’s confirmation as well. Be aware of the floodwaters contaminated by sewage and gasoline. Be careful about flooded areas as the water might have ruined or affected the roads and grounds. Watch the downed power lines if you spot any report to the power company. Also, avoid moving water.

2. Check Your People

Start contacting your relatives and friends, people you know, and clarify the situations about their surviving a flood as a lot of people are missing and dead every time after big floods. If something happens to them, report your concerns to rescue teams and authorities about them. Leave your details for them to contact you as well, including your email address. Telephone lines and cell phones streak might have interfered with by the flood. Try the Internet connection, as it usually starts working fast. If you have a solar charger or hand-crank one, it will be possible for you to recharge your phone and get in touch with your people.

3. In Case of Separation

What to do if you were separated from your family member or friends during the flood. Again, try not to panic and start checking the information. First, address to rescue teams. Check with the people you think that the person may contact. It is useful if you have decided on the meeting point in advance in separation during the flood. Check personal social media pages and outstanding websites organized for similar cases.

4. Your Property Damage

You can go back to your house upon the authority’s permission after the flood. The first rule to follow is to see if there any flood water around your home. If you have it there, don’t enter your home.

Be careful when you enter your house. The house has suffered significant damage from floods. For example, some home parts can be ruined or lessened and can even collapse when you try to walk.

You need to wear protective clothing like boots, rubber gloves, or even an overall face mask. Every wet place must be cleaned and disinfected, as floodwaters bring many mud, chemicals, and sewage. Some articles that contacted with flood water can be thrown away.

5. Take your House Photos

Turn around and observe the aftermath. After the flood, when you arrive back at your house, start taking pictures of everything around your home. You will need this detailed proof of your flood insurance claims. Compile a written list of everything you have lost.

6. Check Utility Systems

Be very careful about your electricity and utility systems. First of all, try to remember your evacuation detail. Whether you managed to switch off the eclectic breaker correctly, or you left everything untouched because it was too late. Don’t start your systems in the house until professionals check them. Oversee your appliances. If you spot that they got wet, call the electrician to check them.

7. Looting

Unfortunately, very often, looting takes place when a disaster occurs. Looters are attracted by deserted areas when you are trying to survive a flood on higher ground. They can treat your house as an easy target and come to rob it. You should think carefully about and find ways to protect your home while you are away. Also, it might be a problem when you return home as you can face those people unexpectedly. And you need to know how to protect yourself.


Takeaway Your awareness of potential hazards and ways to survive them can significantly raise your chances of survival whatever the situation may occur. Keep in mind all the tips and recommendations from this article, reread it if you want, and you will be ultimately ready to face any danger and keep yourself, your family, and your property safe.

Consider purchasing some of the survival gear and stock up your survival kit to maximize your chance to get away from any danger, intact.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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